14 Mar Internal Conflict in the Sudanese Government?
In public, Sudanese government officials have uniformly defended Bashir against the supposed depredations of the ICC. According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, however, they tell a different story in private:
A minister with the president’s National Congress Party, NCP, said that members were left reeling by the announcement of an arrest warrant issued against Bashir by ICC judges on March 4 for atrocities in Darfur.
“We received the court’s decision [to indict Bashir] in shock and disbelief without having any specific strategy to face it,” said the minister, under conditions of anonymity.
He told IWPR that tentative discussions have begun about who should replace Bashir as head of state.
“[The party is] trying to appear united in public, but I am afraid this is not the case,” he said.
But according to a minister from another party, who also preferred not to be named, the president’s position has been seriously undermined by the arrest warrant.
“[Bashir’s] position has become [affected] and he doesn’t enjoy respect – [he] is now labelled with war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said.
“He is becoming a burden to his party, and internally, within the NCP, discussions have started [as to what should be done].”
Although Bashir’s supporters say he must stay in place to oversee peace deals, national elections planned for later this year and a 2011 referendum on self-rule for South Sudan, the minister said that Bashir was no longer a credible leader.
He said that by failing to engage with the ICC and the international community at an earlier stage, the president missed a chance to avert the arrest warrant.
“A few months ago, we had a better chance to bargain and negotiate a settlement with the international community,” he said.
It is far too soon, of course, to start an office pool around the date Bashir will be turned over to the ICC. But as the article makes clear, not even a preening tyrant like Bashir is immune from the effects of being branded an international criminal. The arrest warrant will probably never be executed, as its critics never tire of reminding us. That does not mean the ICC’s willingness to issue the warrant does not have positive effects. The article mentions a critical one: an erosion of support for Bashir in the Sudan. Another, with luck, will be the reduced willingness (or ability) on the part of countries like China and Russia to do business with Bashir.
To be sure, Bashir’s ouster would not be a panacea for Darfur’s ills. There is no question that Bashir’s most likely successors are just as bloodthirsty as he is. That said, whoever ultimately replaced him would have to think twice about continuing his genocidal policies. After all, the new President would know all too well how that could turn out…